ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor
“I learned our government must be strong;
It’s always right and never wrong!
Our leaders are the finest men
And we elect them again and again…”
— Tom Paxton,”What Did You Learn In School?”
History reveals the unpleasant truth that our elected politicians too often say and do things very different from what we want. I wrote about this a couple of years ago, wondering why legislators at the state and federal levels have passed laws that polls showed by large margins the public opposes.
Historians such as Howard Zinn told us America’s greatness was not the result of lawmakers coming up with new and fresh ideas and guiding them into becoming laws of the land. The really good stuff, he maintained, happened because of grass-roots campaigns by everyday hard-working common folks who forced the issue.
Some of the best examples are women’s suffrage and the abolition of slavery.
But some even more striking examples have surfaced lately, demonstrating politicians not working on behalf of the public, but instead doing the bidding of those who contribute money to their elections in what broadcaster Bill Moyers called a system of legalized bribery.
We should have been suspicious in 2017 when President Donald Trump and a Republican majority in the Congress approved a tax cut for the rich, even though polls suggested that as many as three-quarters of the public opposed it.
Closer to home, I thought about politicians being out of step with the people Monday night when I noticed the smooth approval of Wayland’s first marijuana business. There were deliberations, but they didn’t get bogged down in moral preaching and fear mongering, like what I had seen in Martin and Watson townships.
Officials on the City Planning Commission and the City Council did not oppose such dispensaries on moral grounds, they recognized that a majority of voters in Michigan approved medicinal and most recently recreational sale and use of marijuana. So today, because of the will of the people, I can smoke pot in my home, something I would have been arrested for and imprisoned 50 years ago.
We were advised by many politicians and law enforcement officers not to support the state-wide proposals legalizing weed in 2018. And 58 percent of Wayland voters approved the statewide ballot issue.
Statewide ballot issues, such as making voting easier to do and implementing voting by mail, were approved by wide margins as well four years ago. A proposal to establish a non-partisan redistricting commission won with more than 60 percent.
All of the above were not supported by most politicians.
Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski very publicly suggested statewide rejection of Proposals 1, 2 and 3 in last month’s general election. All three won handily.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade law, and many states since 1980 have steadily made it more difficult for women to have access to the procedure. Yet Michigan and four other states on Nov. 8 soundly rejected the state legislature’s prohibitions, and very conservative Kansas did the same last August.
Astute observers who connect the dots and study what’s been happening, particularly in the last five years, have to come to the conclusion that most elected politicians do not reflect the wishes of their constituents. Instead, they follow the directives of their corporate or privately wealthy masters, public opinion be damned.
But this does leave us the troubling question: Why do we continue to elect lawmakers who refuse to do what we want? It’s marketing and public relations and follow the money.
Our only power to counteract these scoundrels is to vote. And in many cases, we should throw the rascals out.